New Year’s Talk: Ditch the Short Term Dietary Goals

by Gena on December 29, 2011

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Last Friday, on my way back from upstate NY, I stopped into the cozy and warm Our Hen House HQ in Soho to do an interview with Jasmin and Mariann, the energetic, hilarious, and passionate co-founders of this innovative non-profit. Jasmin and Mariann are incredible activists: they are outspoken yet compassionate, and they marry their reverence for animal life with their convictions about LGBT rights, health, and many other topics. Jasmin has taught me that being an activist means using your unique talents and convictions to spread the world about veganism. I’m passionate about health, feminism, and fostering positive body image, so I try to write about veganism through those three prisms. Whatever your passions are, you can use them to help animals now.

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The podcast will air on Saturday, and it will be available for download here. As you’ll see, we spend a lot of time talking about my decision to become a post-bacc, my Green Recovery series (and the links between ED histories and plant-based diet), and my own eating habits. But right now, in the spirit of our upcoming New Year, I wanted to focus on one of the questions that Jasmin asked me: “Do you have a New Year’s resolution?”

“No,” I answered immediately.

I don’t like resolutions. Sorry, world–I know everyone loves them, and I understand why they can be inspiring, but I like to see every day–heck, every hour–as a moment to resolve to do great things. Using the New Year as a focal point just stresses me out. More importantly, the rash of diets and “cleanses” that spring up each January tend to dismay me. So much so, that when Jasmin reframed her question elegantly to “do you have a hope for the new year?” part of my answer became, in not so many words.

“I hope people will stop setting short-term dietary goals for themselves.”

This was actually tricky territory for me to talk about, because I realize that many of my readers have been inspired to improve their health or try veganism because they did a “detox” or a challenge. I also know that dietary experimentation has helped many of my readers to find better health: it was the thing that gave them the courage to question a doctor who had dismissed their symptoms, or allowed them to uncover a food intolerance that had been plaguing them, or it helped them to inch closer to a vegan or raw diet. Experimentation and short-term goal setting can be deeply empowering, because it helps us to break pre-existing patterns of behavior, and to explore a lifestyle change without becoming overwhelmed by the notion of “forever.” So, dear readers, don’t get me wrong: if there’s a vegan challenge you’re particularly geared up for this year, I’ll be cheering you on all the way.

With that said, I cannot count the number of emails I get each year at this time, detailing the fasting, calorie restricting, food group eliminating, and wacky beverage drinking that people intend to start their new years with. And it makes me sad, because these “plans” are not nourishing, they’re not always pleasurable, and most of all, they’re just not sustainable.

No, this isn’t an expression of concerns over fasting, which I know that many of you do find truly rewarding. It’s more gentle reminder not to let short term dietary goals eclipse long term goals. For me, the beauty of the last decade of my life is that I stopped with the constant dietary experiments, the wacky fads, and the eliminations of one thing after another. Instead, I found a way of eating that I knew would continue to be rewarding not only for a day, or a month, but the rest of my life. As liberating as it is to try new things, it is also tremendously liberating to feel that one has found one’s own “identity” as an eater.

So, this January, I would invite you all to continue exploring your dietary identities. If this means taking a month long vegan challenge, or even eating one more plant based meal each week, then go for it! But my hope is that many of you will reject dietary patterns that are short-term by definition. Back when I was taking clients as a nutrition coach, I often asked, “Do you think the way you’re eating now could possibly stand the test of time? Are you really sure you won’t get sick of it?” This was almost always a response to a client telling me that he or she had embarked on a diet that was hopelessly restrictive. And the answer was always “I doubt it.”

Instead of flirting with diets that promise you a new beginning, but deprive you of pleasure in order to get there, try, for a change, to greet the new year by being generous with yourself. Envision a way of eating that will feel rewarding–not just this week, or this month, but for years and years. Remember that finding pleasure in the way you eat is just as important as being healthy, because without the former, the latter won’t last.

I can’t tell you exactly what I mean by an “eating identity” that will last, because this is different for all of us: we all need and want different kinds of tastes and textures and rewards from our food. 100% raw foodism might be feasible long-term for some people, for example, but it’s not feasible for me. Instead of doing a “raw month,” I simply commit to an eating style that prioritizes and celebrates raw food. Figure out what your own long-term needs are, and put them first.

And if you already find pleasure and health in the way you eat, do something really revolutionary this year, and don’t make a dietary resolution at all. Commit to reaching out to family and friends, to enriching (and perhaps reevaluating) your professional situation, or to doing more to help animals. Articulate a hope for yourself–this year, my hope is to be more forgiving of my academic struggles–and do your best to see it come to life. New Year’s may be a time of self-examination, but that needn’t necessarily mean examining the way you eat. It may actually mean accepting that the way you eat is fine just the way it is.

Pursuant to all of this, two recent and fascinating articles have detailed the dangers of weight gain after calorie restriction and dieting. The first is this one, courtesy of USA Today, and the second is Tara Parker Pope’s excellent piece on the difficulties of weight loss from the New York Times Magazine. In spite of the challenges outlined in both articles, neither should be taken to mean that you should not try to lose weight (slowly, healthily) if you are dangerously overweight. But if you do not need to lose weight, and are flirting with the idea of a diet for aesthetic reasons, you may think twice.

And even though I’ll be back here tomorrow and on New Year’s Eve and Day, I want to send you all my warmest and most loving wishes for 2012.

xo

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda B. December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I’m glad you clarified. I like short-term goals because they’re psychologically easier for people to handle than long-term forever goals. BUT what you said makes a lot of sense. That only works if those goals are something that can potentially be maintained long-term. Or alternatively, they are something that can be at least partially maintained long-term.

I’ve gone one short-term challenges designed to break a habit or a reliance. When I was trying to cut my coffee habit, I went on a 2-week no caffeine challenge. It helped me realize I don’t NEED caffeine in the morning to get going, even if I have to be at work at 7am. That made it easier for me to reduce my consumption down the road. I still like caffeine, and I still drink it sometimes, but that short-term challenge fed into a long-term reduction in my consumption of caffeine. Previous attempts to reduce caffeine before “breaking” that habit were unsuccessful. I’m gearing up to do the same thing with processed sugar in the near future.

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Gena December 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Ha! I think you just expressed it better than I could have. Using a short period of time to get inspired without the pressure of infinity is great, but I think that self-punishment as a means of ritual cleansing may not always be great, if that makes sense.

As for coffee, I actually did the same experiment once, and it taught me that I love, but don’t NEED, coffee. Smoking, on the other hand, was a cold turkey kinda thing, of course :)

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga December 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm

None of us are perfect and I don’t think anyone is ever 100% fully in this camp: “It may actually mean accepting that the way you eat is wonderful just the way it is.”

I am sure that there are small things, nit-picky things or just tiny things that no one is ever totally and fully always perfectly satisfied with (and most people I think find tremendous fault and self-criticism with what they eat and what they are doing or not doing with diet, exercise, etc but that’s a whole other topic….)

But as you said, finding peace with what you’re doing, finding your path, your groove, your own little eating zen…YES there is tremendous peace with that.

It’s liberating once you find your “eating identity” as you said. Figuring out what makes one’s self tick; on the mind, body, and spirit level, and that includes dietary path..is so tricky but once you (kind of) have a grasp on it, it’s just so rewarding.

Lovely post!

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Gena December 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Averie, this is a lovely distinction, thank you. I actually edited to say “fine just the way it is,” the idea being that acceptance can happen without a feeling of perfection. I appreciate the contribution you just made :)

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Lindsay Loves Veggies December 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Well said! One of the reasons I love being vegan is that it makes my body feel good EVERYday, not just one day, week or month! Thank you for continuing to inspire so many people out there to live a better life! :)

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JL goes Vegan December 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Are you talking to me?! I kid, I kid.

I’m 100% behind the sentiment here. I do admit, however, that I turned vegan two years ago after doing my first ever nutritional cleanse. When I completed the cleanse I realized I made it through two weeks with no dairy and I had consumed only one egg. So I just stopped all animal products. I did a cleanse again last January. This January? No cleanses. No diets (in fact, that’s the theme for blog posts on Stop Chasing Skinny in January).

I am, however, going to focus on meals filled with whole foods for a month. Because I love timelines (and spreadsheets, but that’s another story). I have had way too much take-out and processed foods over the last few months. I’m not aiming to lose weight — I will be eating fabulous carbs and luscious oils like mad. I’m simply refocusing on good habits.

I think it’s natural to find ourselves reflective when the year ends–that’s often when we pinpoint that which makes us happiest–and discover we may have lost some of it during the year. A new year is an opportunity to reclaim it.

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Gena December 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Wife:

I was actually thinking about your master cleanse experience as I wrote this. I love that you took an experience that is unhappy for so many people and used it as a springboard to allow for a wonderful new change — even if you left the cleanse itself behind. So when I say that I know what good can come of experiments, I really do mean it.

But I think we both feel the same about unrealistic deprivation as a means of self-reflection. There are ways to make improvements that don’t mean drastic and unrealistic (or even harmful) measures. Such as your commendable whole foods initiative!

G xoxo

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bitt December 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I agree with a lot of what you say about motives particularly, but I think it speaks mostly of people who are trying to lose a few pounds because they overindulged over the holidays (a much better plan would have been to not overdo it then not have to swing so far in the opposite spectrum). However I think people with health issues have a lot to gain from going on a healthier meal plan, low sugar, vegan diet, raw diet, and in some cases if done properly, juice feast (not fast). I would have never figured out anything about my allergy to soy if I had not gone without it while on all raw diet. I never would have gone raw or eaten that much raw food at all if I had not had very short term goals with it at first. (they turned long term but in the beginning I didn’t know that). People learn they can live with less sugar or gluten if they take a month or so off of it. Some people struggle with going partway with things and have to go all the way off-sugar for example to be able to learn to live without it and then be able to slowly reintroduce it in a healthier way. Many foods are addictive and need to be taken out all the way for someone to gain control of their diet again.

So I appreciate what you say but I think it’s a bit rigid and in my mind applies to more extreme fads that are not a way of life at all nor designed to be.

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Gena December 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for the comment, Bitt. I think I did try to draw a distinction between a healthier way of eating (which would, in theory, be totally sustainable in the long term) and a super-calorie-restricted diet, which is often what I hear a lot of at this time of the year. I think month long challenges that are truly healthy and sustainable are great, especially if they inspire long term commitment, but I think that diets that are so restrictive that they’d ultimately be either harmful or just unpleasant are a little trickier. And the point definitely wasn’t to say “you MUST follow this advice” but more to say “in a season full of pressure to commit to a short-term goal, let me offer a different perspective.”

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sarah December 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I completely agree, though of course that is probably influenced by the fact that neither I, nor anyone close to me, sets new years resolutions. Consequently, not only do I not feel compelled to do them personally, there’s no outside pressure to set them either. Most often, I just watch from afar, and wish others the best.

I am really excited to hear you on Our Hen House. Ever since I found them through you, I have been listening to their back episodes. I have time off for a bit now, and then start my PhD, so I have had more time than normal to listen to the back episodes. I am working my way backwards and am currently listening to episode 52!! Such a wonderful podcast, and so many amazing interviews. You are in excellent company.

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Hoshigaki December 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm

First, this is a great post. I will surely make it a 2012 practice to continue to read your blog regularly!

I have NY goals but I’m going to try to start them tomorrow and every day through Dec/Jan and beyond. I think they’re that they’re that important.
For example, I want to unlearn certain food rules that have permeated my eating identity in the past few years. Like food combining, it’s so hard to let go!

Changing behavior is very difficult (as the TPP article highlighted, especially when it comes to our biology and acknowledging our individual body’s limitations AND ASSETS). I know that it will be so empowering to be successful in getting rid of harmful habits and adopting more mood-stabilizing and more nourishing daily rituals.

Another goal is to have a better work-week meal schedule. I’d like to have a system for Monday-Friday. Instead of putting things together at the last minute! Let the research and experimentation begin!

Lastly, I’ve recently realized that some of the foods that it’s really hard for me to eat in moderation, I actually don’t LOVE that much. I don’t find the pleasure I get from eating them to match their weight in my life.
I think a good challenge for me will be to question the tastiness of their “treat” foods. At first I typed “bad” instead of “treats” or “binge” but I think most here will know what I mean.

happy new year!

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Hoshigaki December 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Ali Seiter December 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Thank you so much for this post. Why should people make special attempts to live healthfully only at the new year? If we all followed wholesome eating paths that nourish us from the inside out, there would be no need for dietary food resolutions as we probably would not have overindulged during the holidays in the first place.

I also think that for many people, veganism can be a short-term goal that seems unsustainable for the rest of their lives, perhaps because they rushed into it too fast, found that they couldn’t devote enough time to preparing plant-based meals, or just didn’t enjoy cooking (which I truly think is necessary if you’re a vegan).

Thanks again for the wonderful insight, Gena!

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Hannah December 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm

This may be one of my favorite posts of yours, Gena.

While I like the idea of the “freshness” of New Years, I definitely want my goals to be more focused on other things besides my physical body. I’ve learned from my ED that setting those unrealistic goals leaves me sick or injured, and ultimately, unhappy.

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Abby December 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I’m also not into New Year’s resolutions, as I feel like every day is a new chance to take the next healthy step forward. Sometimes I fall on my flat ass, but at least I know that every day I have the chance to change the things I feel I need to change.

But with that said, it’s much easier said than done. I admit that this time of year is a bit triggering for me, as so many people who are not educated as to proper nutrition or self-care are embarking on ignorant cleanses, binge workout plans and extreme diets. Being in a position of needing to gain weight, this can be a wee bit frustrating (please note I am not referring to those who know what they’re doing and coming from a place of healthy motivation.)

However, I know that as long as I continue to educate and surround myself with others who share my values, struggles and goals–such as yourself and many other veggie bloggers–the next year can continue to be an exploration of what works best for me. Thank you for your insight, as always, and I look forward to what 2012 brings–on the plate and off ;)

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:04 am

Abby,

I find NYE to be triggering, too. No matter how confident one is that these fad cleanses are dangerous and will backfire, it’s not easy for a woman with an ED past to be around all of the “noise,” so to speak. So I’m very sympathetic.

But I agree that it’s possible to find as many positive examples as negative ones, so indeed, may you spend 2012 surrounding yourself with support and inspiration! I get plenty of my inspiration from you.

xo

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Rachel December 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Really great post Gena! I was really glad to see you reference “The Fat Trap” from NY Times. It is a very relevant article to the idea of unrealistic dietary choice, but also a reality check for how our bodies respond to deprivation. As much as most of us (in the U.S., at least) don’t think in feast-or-famine cycles, our bodies are still biologically programmed to respond to changes in the amount of calories consumed.

For me, at least, it presents a cautionary tale for someone (overweight or not) who is contemplating a dietary shift (or happened to limit caloric intake for five years or so and is now experiencing mild repercussions of that…). But I also think that as much as we know about the science, eating and body image can be so emotional that short-term diets and cleanses are often rationalized even if not healthy.

That said, I agree with your notion of not making a New Years resolution (such as eat less chocolate!) but simply try to discover your identity as an eater. While this actually may be a greater challenge than committing to a quick fix for January, in the long-run it is better for your body and overall well-being.

Happy new year!

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

Rachel,

So interesting to learn that you had a restriction phase. We are overdue for a coffee in DC! Thanks for commenting, and I wish you a great NYE!

xo

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Carrie December 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Celebrate raw food, I love it. Food and your “eating identity” are about abundance not deprivation….wherever you find it! Gena, you’ve been a great help for me finding mine, and I am so grateful! Happy new year everyone, no matter what you eat to celebrate!!!

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:01 am

I am so glad, Carrie! Keep staying true to yourself.

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Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! December 30, 2011 at 12:11 am

Thank you so much for this post – you just reinforced everything I’ve been telling myself for the past few months. After losing about 20 lbs way too fast, I am now healthier than ever, but a lot of the weight has come back. I went about it the wrong way, being way too restrictive, etc.
Now all I want is to find a dietary lifestyle that best suits me. I hope I am close, as I have been experimenting for over a year now, and at times I think it’s not possible. But this post has given me hope that I can find my equilibrium.
Happy New Year!

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:01 am

Thanks for commenting, Rachel. I’m so happy to hear that you’re pursuing “equilibrium” — what a nice way of expressing it.

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Ela December 30, 2011 at 12:16 am

Wow–excited to hear your podcast, and I appreciate your plain-spoken thoughts about short-term dietary goals. I’m looking forward to reading those two articles as well: the slowed metabolism consequent on long-term restriction is becoming more and more covered in mainstream venues and I think it’s important information (maybe even important information for me, on my latest round of restricting). Speaking of finding your own eating style–my own eating style seems to be serial restricting in one form or another (which may have something to do with my comorbidity). Thank goodness for thyroid medication. I don’t know whether to laugh at myself or shoot myself in the foot!

All the best of love as you shine on into 2012.

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shannon December 30, 2011 at 1:47 am

I like the idea of resolutions because sometimes it’s useful to mark a change symbolically. But New Year’s resolutions feel so strongly associated with failure (both personally and generally) that I feel slightly superstitious about even thinking about goals around this time of year lest I doom myself…. :)

Even so: I am working on changing my behavior so that I respond to anxiety in healthier ways. It’s always encouraging to read the recovery stories you post because I feel a little less lonely when I’m standing in the kitchen trying to figure out a meal.

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Sarah December 30, 2011 at 6:40 am

Wonderful post, Gena. And a big Amen to it all. My hope for the New Year is to make fresh vegetable juice one day a week and to continue pursuing veganism with joy, passion and courage. Oh, I’m also going to make steps to be less worried of what others think of me and my decisions. I think I’ve just written my new year blog post!

Happy New Year, with lots of love x

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:00 am

I am so proud to have watched your relationship with veganism shift and change this year. Thanks for sharing it with my readers. xo

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Wendy (Healthy GIrl's Kitchen) December 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

Great post Gena. I really waiver on this issue. I guess I see both the benefits and the downsides of resolution setting. Some things I learned this year are that goals that are really small and easy for us to do are better than the other kind. Also, limiting the amount of time you are going to do it for is helpful. The “goal” is not to fail and feel bad about ourselves again for not being “perfect.” If the goal of resolution setting can be to feel good about achieving something positive, no matter how small, that is something that could work for me.

My big conclusion? I’m setting very few resolutions this year and they are all going to be achievable and fun for me.

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Rebecca December 30, 2011 at 9:40 am

I love this: “greet the new year by being generous with yourself”. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I know how dangerous and counterproductive extreme goals can be. I want healthy living to be achievable and sustainable and a natural part of life. Thanks for sharing!

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Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY December 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

I feel the same way about New Years Resolutions as you and this sentiment is largely born from years of adopting extremely restrictive diets in my quest to lose weight per a resolution. After not one of those diets working, largely because I was not truly motivated to change, but was only doing it for the sake of a resolution, I just stopped. No resolutions anymore. Sure, I have goals, but I let them come about organically. Instead I just let my New Years Eve be about good company, champagne, delicious food, and a sparkly outfit.

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Ali December 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Hey girl, I could not love or agree with this article any more if I tried to. This is EXACTLY what I tell so many of my clients! Look at this fast, cleanse or whatever you are doing to try to loose weight, and tell me if it is sustainable. If not, no dice! It is so much more rewarding to find a way of eating that suits you for the long haul, should that not be the goal any ways!?

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Skye December 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Gena, you are so well-spoken. I enjoy the feeling of a fresh start that comes with each new year and I do make a few resolutions every year- but I’ve been moving toward more long-term goals. In 2012 I hope to move toward a healthier lifestyle that I can maintain- both eating healthier and getting more exercise. I love your philosophy that each new day is a blank slate and an opportunity to improve, and that you can move forward after a bad day and not let it turn into a bunch of bad days. I will keep that to heart in the coming year. Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt posts. I talk about your blog so often that my close friends now know you by name :) Happy New Year- I hope you have a marvelous 2012!

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Christine (The Raw Project) December 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Wonderful post, Gena, thanks! I completely agree on resolutions and short term goals. We shouldn’t stress ourselves to make changes we’re not ready for because of New Year’s, those changes will most likely fail.

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Hotly Spiced December 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

After failing many of my goals for 2011 this year I’m just going to set some goals that are a little less ambitious and hope for a different result.

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elizabeth December 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm

It may surprise you, given what you know about my diet (namely, that I don’t abide restriction), that I am a big fan of New Year’s resolutions (and birthday resolutions, and resolutions in general). I find New Years resolutions to be especially powerful because there’s so much collective energy to draw on in the process of transformation.

I’m glad you mentioned the Tara Parker Pope article. I think many of us who have recovered from long struggles with anorexia have experienced the same “metabolic disadvantage.” (“The research shows that the changes that occur after weight loss translate to a huge caloric disadvantage of about 250 to 400 calories.”)

A 400 calorie disadvantage is NO SMALL THING, especially if you like to eat. Worth keeping in mind before you embark, long term, on a low calorie diet. You may have to stay on it, if you want to maintain the lower weight. That’s a life without cupcakes. Fine if you want it.

Personally, I think rather than trying to subsist on as few calories as possible, we should all be striving to eat as many calories as we can (without gaining weight, if we’re already at a healthy weight). Nutrient dense calories of course! I think it’s especially important to eat an ample diet given how depleted in nutrients (especially trace minerals) our modern foods are (yes, even organic fruits and vegetables).

I can tell you that I did experience a metabolic deficit. I actually think I’d have recovered from my own restrictive eating patterns more quickly if every so-called normal meal (and I do mean normal, I wasn’t a binger) didn’t show up on the scale the next day. It perpetuated my fear of food!

I do think (no scientific evidence, this is just an observation) it’s possible to reset our metabolism after years of restriction, and it would be worth researching the effects of a regular yoga practice, a raw food diet, etc. on overcoming the metabolic disadvantage.

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Actually, I would have absolutely guessed you did like resolutions. Not at all sure why.

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Ruth December 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

The thing I struggle with is putting this into practise. Not just diet-wise, everything in my life is like this. I set stupid goals and sabotage myself with my misguided attempts to be encouraging. I felt myself doing it after reading this post. “Yeah, this is all so true! And it’s expressed beautifully. Gena is so wise. I wish I could be that wise. It’s so hard!” And instead of being sensible and thinking, well, it’s hard, that means I need to work at it, make an effort to be wise and then maybe one day I will be, which is probably what you did, I think stupid stuff like “Gena is wise! Gena drinks green smoothies and eats salads often! If I do that, I will also have great insights and act on them!” It’s totally ridiculous. Recognising these thoughts is surely the first step, but it just ends up being another stick to beat myself with. I have no idea how to tackle it, so I go back to obsessing over nonsense.

I’m looking forwards to the podcast :)

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Ruth,

I can assure you that I’m not always so wise. And as for emulating me, I know I don’t have to tell you that it’s not the answer! Just eat in a way that feels good to you. Pick healthy foods. Don’t set outlandish goals. Now that is wise :)

G

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Hannah December 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Gena, thanks for posting a link to that article. Coming from a long eating disorder history I find articles like that triggering however and “scary” since that backlash to the restirciton has always been a big fear.

While my weight has been stable for about two years I still eat less than someone my size who hasn’t dieted and know that is b/c of the damage I’ve done. It would take a strong belief in myself that my “furnace” would adjust itself burn to higher if I gave it the fuel it really wanted.

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Gena December 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Hi Hannah,

Scary indeed. But as I said, if anyone is living proof that one can have a very balanced metabolism in life after an ED, it’s me. I would not, however, have such a metabolism if I did not eat, and eat well.

Hang in there,

Gena

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Hannah (Balancing on Two Feet) December 31, 2011 at 7:53 am

Thanks Gena. I know it can be done as I have many times before, but still I always wonder if this will be the time that things don’t “click.”

Thanks for being here!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles December 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I definitely don’t like the idea of resolutions, I’m more of a “just do it” gal. I like how eloquently you state to find our identities as eaters. I’ve struggled with this for quite some time, and I think I’m finally coming close to my eating identity. I’m not there yet, but it’s an ever-evolving endeavor! Happy New Year Gena!

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Nikki W. December 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm

All of the diet resolution ads have been slightly annoying. My “hope for the new year” is for people to move towards a more sustainable way of eating in general, for our health, our environment, fellow humans, and animals. I would love for health promotion, education, moderation, compassion and fresh real food to become the norm. I’m a nurse and I’d love for prevention to take the place of medication and surgery.

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Laura December 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Read this post after reading and contributing to Sweet Green’s post-it note wall of resolutions, which range from sad-funny-pathetic-inspiring. I do like to make resolutions, but I similarly dislike the “diet” chatter around this time of year (or any time). My resolution is to start packing lunch for school regularly again… I start buying when when life gets busy, and it’s bad for the budget and for my eating habits. I’m a fan of healthy resolutions- goal-setting is an important skill and the culture of New Year resolutions can give a little boost. Unhealthy resolutions are.. unhealthy and sad.

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Kathleen December 31, 2011 at 11:52 am

I wish my teenage and twenty something year old self could have read this! While I was never big on New Years resolutions, I constantly set unsurmountable diet and fitness goals for myself on and off over the years. I never once succeeded in these unsustainable plans in the long term and in addition to having to suffer the restriction, I would also suffer in feelings of failure. Looking back, it all seems so sad to me how I interpreted those two words ( “success” and “failure”) in relation to food and my body.

I think New Years can be a great time to reflect on the previous year and have hopes for the next. But I refuse to take part in anything that I deem as punishment towards my physical and emotional health. Resolutions, in my opinion, should come from a place of joy. Truth be told, CR and Gena have had a huge impact on my continuous progress with accepting my body and honoring its desires and needs :)

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Kathleen December 31, 2011 at 11:56 am

and by unsurmountable i meant insurmountable…

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Johanna January 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

Thanks Gena, and my warmest wishes for you for the new year. You’re blog been been and is both a comfort zone and a place for new thoughts and ideas. I love that you write so respectfully about food. As formed ED (whoa, I can’t believe I just wrote “former”!) I have a very hard time restricting my diet, even if it is meat and stuff like that, which I rarely eat anyway. But you made me accept that it’s OK, and I just keep adding good stuff – someday I’ll hopefully be vegan without realizing it! :)

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Wendy January 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Gena,

Thanks so much for this. I think that you just eloquently stated something I’ve been searching for for a long time – my eating identity. I went vegetarian in 2010, vegan late 2011 but I still struggle with healthy eating. A gourmet and comfort food lover at heart, even eating vegan has thus far meant far to many mac and cheese recipe tries than are good for me. (Given that I have weight to lose.) So, this year, I hope to find a healthy eating identity that will work for the remainder of my life.

BTW, your sun dried pesto pizza recipe is what convinced my husband to open up to the idea of going vegan. (Which he did) So thanks for that too! :) Happy New Year!

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Jesse Fuller January 3, 2012 at 6:08 am

Wonderful article – thanks. Us vegans can sometimes feel like we should stay closeted due to other people’s pressure and preconceptions. Thanks gain.

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MizShrew January 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I love the idea of an “identity as an eater.” I do make resolutions, but I try to keep them few, measurable, and achievable. It’s more a process of reviewing what has and has not made me feel good/happy in the previous year and what would make me feel better/happier in the coming year. I actually tossed out my most recent food journal as part of my healthy/sustainable eating resolution. Instead of scrutinizing how much I eat, I’m going to try and focus on what foods I really enjoy, what makes me feel good, etc.

Thanks for a great post and blog!

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